I spoke recently to the Society of American Military Engineers’ Small Business Conference. My due diligence preparing for that event made me aware of the unbelievable chaos the “shovel ready” economic stimulus package of 2008 created. Full disclosure: I have never been involved with a government contract; I know little of the vernacular prevalent in government work. I have never seen anything like the investment of time, effort, or resources required to figure out that contracting process. If you don’t understand how that buying process works—for example, if you underbid a construction or engineering project—you are doomed for failure.
In that period of “shovel ready” accelerated contracting, hundreds of small companies attempted to bid for government contracts but failed to understand how this customer bought. I’ve long been a strong proponent that relationships go bad with misaligned expectations. In coaching close to 50-60 corporate executives, small- and medium-sized company entrepreneurs, and independent consultants alike, I’ve come to believe that if you don’t understand how your relationships buy – not just products and services, but also information and credibility and repute – you have a recipe for colossal disaster. (more…)